An Open Letter to NBC re this year's Education Nation

Date: August 30, 2011
to: Steve Capus (President, NBC News) and Brian Williams (Anchor and Managing Editor, Nightly News)
Subject: Education Nation

Dear Mr. Capus and Mr. Williams: Thank you for dedicating substantial attention to the issue of public education, and for scheduling several days of programming this fall to this critical issue, as you did last fall, under the name of “Education Nation.”

However, we were very concerned that last year’s “Education Nation” contained a paucity of parent viewpoints, and we fear that this critical omission will reoccur. As far as we know, not a single public school parent participated in any of the numerous panels that NBC and MSNBC assembled last fall.

Public school parents are the primary stakeholders of our public school system, with the most at stake in the success or failure of our children’s schools. Our voices and viewpoints are crucial to a balanced discussion of the issues. We believe that at least one parent should participate on each of your panels. Marginalizing parents to a “parent involvement” topic session is simply not the same as respecting parents’ crucial role in education.

The founding members of Parents Across America have deep expertise in key education issue areas including high stakes testing, charter schools, class size, the influence of venture philanthropy on public education, parent involvement, teacher quality and evaluation, NCLB/ESEA, and Race to the Top. Our web site includes a variety of well-researched fact sheets and position papers on these and other relevant education issues written by our members.

PAA’s proposal to revamp NCLB was endorsed by the recent Save Our Schools march, and two of our members spoke at the SOS rally in Washington, D.C. A list of our founding members from across the country is also posted on our website; you can see from our credentials that most of us are experienced public speakers.

We strongly urge you to widen the scope of your programming to provide a fuller and more balanced presentation of views. We believe that, for the sake of public school students, the voices of their parents must be included in the national education debate.

Sincerely yours,

Leonie Haimson (New York City) and Julie Woestehoff (Chicago) for Parents Across America &

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